Election year aside, Oregon finds itself in an awkward transition phase

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June 5, 2012


By Maresa Strano

Veteran Superintendent Susan Castillo announced her resignation on June 4, 2012

SALEM, Oregon: Attorney General John Kroger's upcoming departure from office nearly six months ahead of schedule is not the only dramatic change awaiting Oregon's state executive roster this month. superintendent of schools Susan Castillo announced on Monday, June 4, that she too will resign her seat in the coming weeks.[1] Just as Kroger was lured away by an offer to work in academia as President of Reed College, Castillo was taken by an opportunity to serve as regional vice president for the non-profit Project Lead The Way, which is "the leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math educational" curricula to middle and high schools in the country.[2]

Kroger will vacate his position this spring to lead Reed College

Following a stint in the Oregon State House, Castillo won her first of an eventual three successful elections to the position of superintendent on May 21, 2002. She began her third consecutive term in January 2011. Castillo's decision to leave with over two years left in her term marks the abrupt end of the office's approximately 150 year run as an independent, elected position. As part of Gov. John Kitzhaber's 2011 reorganization of the entire state education system, a law was passed placing the superintendent's office directly under the governor's control, for the purpose of fostering "a more coordinated education system stretching from pre-kindergarten through graduate school."[1] The new law, which was not expected to take effect until Castillo's term expired in 2014, transfers "responsibility for the state's half-million students attending 1,200 public and charter schools"[1] to the governor, who will appoint a chief education officer to oversee the department in place of an elected superintendent.[3] A spokesman for the governor reported that Kitzhaber will appoint someone to the newly created position of education officer by July 1,[1] around the time he must also appoint an interim attorney general to fill the vacancy until the winner of November's general election for attorney general - presumably the Democratic primary nominee Ellen Rosenblum - can take office next January.

Despite surprising many leaders with announcement of her early resignation, Castillo insists that her decision was in no way related to the planned overhaul of her office. She cited the continuing fight to to get resources to under-financed public schools as her only regret in ten years serving as superintendent.[1]

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